When they make it through the door of Nate’s apartment, there’s a flurry of activity at first because Eliot isn’t able to stand on his own at the moment, and Sophie is still dripping blood down her forehead from where she was hit by one of the security guards.
Nate ushers Parker and Hardison out after a few words of assurance; Eliot prefers things this way, and if he had his way, Nate and Sophie would leave as well.
Sophie gets out the first aid kit and starts pulling out supplies, her head aching. Nate comes up behind her and guides her back to sit in a chair opposite Eliot. Eliot groans and pushes himself up as he grabs a clean cloth and the rolled gauze.
“Need to get that cleaned before we bandage it,” he says through gritted teeth. “Not deep enough to need stitches, though.”
“Well, there’s that,” Nate mumbles with a frown.
He doesn’t even attempt to make Eliot sit back down even though the man is swaying on his feet, and Sophie keeps from snapping at both of them in irritation because she knows Eliot will refuse treatment until he takes care of her. It’s frustrating and stupid, but it’s faster to indulge him.
Eliot presses the cloth against her head, and she hisses through clenched teeth at the stinging pain; his hands are surprisingly steady, and Nate’s hand is wrapped around the curve of her shoulder, the pressure comforting and warm. When Eliot pulls the cloth back, Nate puts a bandage of gauze padding against the cut and tapes it down. She’s sure it’s not very attractive, but considering the blood that’s already started congealing on Eliot’s face, she knows she got off easy.
“There you go,” Nate tells her softly, bending down and kissing her.
She leans into him for a moment then breaks away to murmur, “Now we need to get Eliot cleaned up.
“Dislocated right shoulder, check for concussion, a cut on my right leg, two cracked ribs and broken nose,” Eliot lists off automatically from where he’s sitting.
“We’ll set your shoulder first,” Nate says quietly as he moves in and takes Eliot’s arm in a light grip.
Sophie gets up and settles on his left side, wrapping one arm around his lower abdomen and using her free hand to grip his left shoulder in a firm grip. She nods her head at Nate, and he pulls Eliot’s arm to the left slowly; her stomach turns at the sound and Eliot’s quiet grunt of pain.
She pulls the small flashlight out and directs the beam into his eyes as Nate unbuttons Eliot’s shirt. Eliot’s eyes flutter against the light’s intrusion, but his pupils dilate which means he at least doesn’t have a concussion on top of all his other injuries. She looks down at Eliot’s chest when Nate pulls the shirt off Eliot’s body and chokes back a cry at the sight of the bruises mottling his skin. Nate is better at wrapping up ribs, so she sinks to the floor to take a look at the cut on Eliot’s leg.
The fabric of his jeans is too stiff for her to feel comfortable rolling it up without hurting him further, so she retrieves a small pocketknife along with the gauze and a fresh cloth from the kit.
“I hope you’re not too attached to these jeans,” she says with a small laugh as she starts to cut up the leg. “Because I don’t think you’ll be able to salvage them when I’m done.”
“Oh, he could always make a pair of shorts out of them,” Nate remarks in a light tone. Then he glances down at Sophie’s progress with the knife and amends, “Make that a pair of very indecent shorts.”
“Figures the two of you would ruin my clothes,” Eliot mumbles. “You owe me a new wardrobe.”
“It’s not our fault that your clothes are always so tight that it’s more practical to rip them off,” Sophie replies as she presses the cloth to his cut.
Eliot looks down and gives her a half-smile. “You like my tight clothes.”
She shakes her head but grins back. “You have me there.”
Nate laughs and takes a step closer to Eliot. “Okay. I need to set your nose.”
She feels Eliot stiffen under her hands, and she winces when she hears the crack of bone; she inspects the cut to make sure she’s gotten all the dirt out before wrapping gauze around it. She tapes it down and stands up, pressing a hand to the side of her head because it is throbbing now. Nate’s just finishing up cleaning away the blood from Eliot’s face.
Eliot reaches his left hand out to her, catches the tips of her fingers, and she drifts closer to him, leaning in and pressing her lips to his. She lingers for a few moments as she reminds herself that they’re all right and it could be worse. When he lets her go, she threads her hand through his hair and pushes it away from his face while Nate moves in and steals a kiss.
“Come on, let’s go to bed,” she says quietly.
Nate helps Eliot to stand up and drapes Eliot’s left arm over his shoulders; she walks in front of them, taking her time since she’s not sure if Nate will need any help. She hates having to listen to Eliot’s labored breaths, knowing how much pain he’s in and not being able to do anything more for him.
He’ll sleep between them tonight. Most nights, she’s in the middle, Eliot at her back, Nate facing her. On the nights like this, though, when Eliot has been beaten up and can barely move or just when there are too many close calls on a job with his life, he sleeps in the middle; it feels right to protect him when he’s weak even if it is only when they’re alone in their bed.
Nate gets Eliot to the bed, and Sophie pulls down the covers while Nate helps him lie down and get situated against the pillows. She strips off her clothes and crawls up beside Eliot in her underwear. She drapes a leg over his left thigh, slips her right arm across his chest, kisses his cheek, and combs her fingers through his hair; his skin is warm against hers, and she’s suddenly exhausted and wants to cry.
Nate scoots in closer, settles a hand on Eliot’s left hip, his fingers just brushing against her leg. He brushes his lips against the side of Eliot’s head and gives her a look.
Eliot is fighting to keep his eyes open, so she leans in to whisper, “Go to sleep, love. You’re safe here.”
“Love you,” he mumbles, and she and Nate know the words are meant for them both.
As Eliot drifts off to sleep, she cuddles a little closer to him until the back of Nate’s hand on Eliot’s hip is pressing against her skin and she’s able to touch Nate’s side with the arm she’s thrown over Eliot. The warmth fills her and chases away the heaviness in her chest, and she lets her eyes fall closed.